Yes, an apartment full of college guys in their mid-twenties has all kinds of byproducts. Noise is one; the Cold War is another. Not the war which made Russians the bad guys in every Hollywood film for 20 years. No, this war is all about not being the guy to buy some apartment commodity. A clear example, repeated in every apartment I've ever lived in, involves toilet paper. Nobody wants to buy the next pack of Charmin because everyone swears that someone is using way more than they are themself. They'll never get their money's worth--besides, it's someone else's turn anyway! Always.
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Learning to dodge bankrolling the T.P. supply is priority one when living in an apartment of mid-twenties barbarians. It's a game of chicken, each person watching the roll quickly dwindle down to nothing. Then, one day, there's just a poor man's piñata there on the rack: a cardboard cylinder with shredded paper tassels. The game is on. Unable to go without some two-ply for very long, people resort to all manner of tactics. Some hoard a secret supply while other roommates covertly dig for it when they think nobody's looking. Some, afraid of their cache being discovered by such scavengers, bring a day's supply home at a time, shamelessly collected from some restroom stall at school. The less innovative roommates, underestimating their foes, find their stash of coincidentally-two-ply Cafe Rio napkins rapidly disappearing and hope their socks' disappearance on laundry day had nothing to do with the war. Once, we even discovered a roommate was actually getting by using the roll of blue crepe paper left over from a Cinco de Mayo party. In the end, someone invariably breaks down and the opulent supply of Charmin is again enjoyed for a few weeks before the cycle repeats.
While not usually shared among all roommates, food also seems to continually be dwindling in supply. College guys are in a perpetual state of needing to go grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure we have this demographic to thank for the formulation of the dollar menu. With school due dates repeatedly coinciding with that fateful day when the home food supply runs out, Wendy's, McDonald's, Little Caesar's and Taco Bell make their fortunes, one green Washington at a time. It's tough to find food with short prep times and distant expiration dates. I recently decided I'm done bothering with potatoes. I don't know how the Irish do it. Mine always go forgotten beneath the sink and I find them some time later once they've sprouted into a healthy family of chia pets. They usually stay there, loyally guarding the cupboard for a while before we bother to throw them away, at which point they are adolescent shrubs. We usually drag them out to the dumpster on our way to Wendy's. In the end, it's hard to remind yourself that all the shopping, cooking and cleanup are all worth it for just yourself. I've outlined it in a flowchart down below.
I hope all the madness is good for us after all. Living through countless toilet paper cold wars, making who knows how many fast food runs and trimming entire forests of potato chia pets will serve to make us appreciate the craziness of family life later all the more.
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